We already talked about Elder Scrolls Online Heart of Thorns when, during PAX South, arena.net decided to announce it and unveil some of its details. The folks responsible for Elder Scrolls Online kept fans hungry for more info, though, when they listed the features the expansion would introduce, including new classes, new zones and the Mastery System but shared little to no details about them, promising a future update. Today, in an interview with IGN, lead designer Isaiah Cartwright shed a bit more light on the zone known as Maguuma Jungle, where the expansion will take place and on the Mastery System.
We decided to divide the Jungle in three main biomes, he says, while explaining that each of these biomes will have different characteristics and links to the lore. The first one is the canopy, the top of the jungle, where players will find a lot of vegetation and the remains of the Pact Fleet, destroyed during season 2 of Living Story. Players will then drop down to the jungle floor, where they can expect to find all of the typical dangers of a jungle and will also have the ability to access the roots of Maguuma, where they will discover what lies underground. Cartwright also said the focal point of this expansion is how the new zone expands vertically and how new NPC races were added to the game.
One of these races will be Itzel. As players will meet them and start earning Mastery Points, the Mastery System will become available, allowing characters to learn the new races’ languages. Hanging out with the Itzel will also result in players learning new skills and techniques and the more time they spend with a new race, the more the Mastery System will allow players to learn about them. Cartwright also said that, unlike other MMOs, the objective in Heart of Thorns is not to rush the expansion and reach the endgame content but to spend as much time as possible exploring the new areas and familiarizing with new cultures and features.
Players will be able to catch glimpses of Maguuma and its culture even in the outside world, as some of the Mastery content will be available even outside of the jungle. Mastery Points can be earned through story missions and some Mastery options can be only unlocked through constant using of the appropriate skills. That means that if, for example, a player wants to have more options for its glider they will have to practice on it. Mastery System Design lead Crystin Cox also said that the objective is to make players feel like they are able to complete new tasks not only because their level grew but because they actively learned a new skill or ability.There is still no release date for Heart of Thorns but the development team says their aim is to create an MMO experience which will last for years and that will grow in a meaningful and satisfying way.